If you have diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor will likely recommend that you see a dietitian to help you develop a healthy-eating plan. The plan helps you control your blood sugar (glucose), manage your weight and control heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high blood fats. In fact, a diabetes diet is arguably the best eating plan for almost everyone, as it’s naturally rich in nutrients, low in fat and calories, and includes lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Here are five more everyday superfoods that are extraordinary for controlling glucose, insulin and staving off/managing Types 2 diabetes. And even if you don’t have diabetes, you should look to incorporate these key elements in your daily diet for a healthy lifestyle.
Beans are a superfood packed with protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber to keep you satiated while stabilizing blood sugar levels and minimize cravings. They are nutritious, versatile and inexpensive – hard to say no unless you really don’t like them.
Beans and other legumes, with their low glycemic index and high fiber, have been shown to regulate blood glucose and insulin levels. This recent study showed that the addition of a bean powder modulated the glycemic response of a high carb wheat-based flatbread.
Glycoproteins, known as lectins are present in beans and it can be a digestive irritant so when consuming beans, it’s best to pressure cook them. I enjoy many types of beans (black, red, navy, lima, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, soy, white) and since I don’t cook my own, I only buy brands that have been properly soaked and cooked in BPA-free containers. Here are a couple to try:
I previously blogged about blueberries as being one of the top 7 superfoods for brain health. Blueberries and other berries (cranberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries) are great for diabetes as well because they are fruits low in the glycemic index and are packed with vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. The powerful flavonoids in these superfoods have been shown to reduce type 2 diabetes risk by improving insulin sensitivity and modifying gastrointestinal hormones and perceived appetite
Did you know that a cup of strawberries contains over 100 mg of vitamin C which is more than a cup of orange juice? We all need extra vitamin C to keep our immune system strong especially during this time!
Remember to buy organic, especially strawberries and cherries as they tend to be laden with pesticides (check out my blog on the Shopper’s Guide to the Dirty Dozen)
Green and Cruciferous Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are nutrient dense with bioavailable vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are very low glycemic with lots of fiber which makes them slower to digest. Leafy greens are also packed with magnesium and amino acids which lower blood sugar and control insulin. So, in addition to their importance for brain health and their anti-cancer benefits, they are great for managing diabetes. This study done on vegetable juice shows the antioxidant potential to prevent development of diabetic complications.
Cruciferous vegetables (arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, turnips) have the limelight as they are low in calories and rich in folate, vitamins C, E, and K, and fiber. Fiber is an important nutrient to incorporate – it helps with digestion and also keeps you full longer, reducing those hunger cravings which make you reach for the snack cupboard! Cruciferous vegetables help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Researchers showed that the antioxidant in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables reduced production of free radicals by 73%. The active compound, sulforaphane triggers a reaction activating detoxifying enzymes which protect the body’s circulatory system from oxidative stress.
It’s a good idea to aim for at least three servings a day of green and cruciferous vegetables – in addition to salads and cooked greens, one of the easiest ways to guarantee that you get these daily servings is to incorporate them into a shake. I add 1-2 cups of raw baby kale, spinach, or lettuce greens in my morning shake – it’s much easier to digest and doesn’t require a lot of chewing.
Grass Fed Butter:
Saturated fats like butter have gotten a bad rap in the past, but now with emerging research, butter is popular again. It’s the dangerous combination of fats, sugars and carbohydrates that contribute to metabolic and other chronic conditions. Butter’s natural fats get converted into fuel and help our bodies absorb nutrients, minerals, and fat-soluble vitamins like A,D,E,K and minerals. It provides our body with essential fatty acids for heart health, stable blood sugar, hormone balance, healthy skin and energy.
Grass fed butter has a higher proportion of healthy, unsaturated fats and conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) than regular butter and is a good source of vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin K2.
Remember to avoid or minimize processed vegetable oils like canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, soybean and safflower oils. And never touch fake oils like margarine.
I like to add a dollop of grass fed butter into my cauliflower soup to intensify the richness of flavor. Enjoy in moderation.
Here are two options (unsalted and salted):
Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) and because it is shorter than the fatty acids in animal fats, it is more readily digested and converted into energy by our mitochondria. Coconut oil has become a superfood and become very popular – and with this, more research has been conducted on its effect on our metabolic syndrome. Coconut oil has been shown to assist weight loss by reducing body fat and increasing satiety. And this superfood is being used by athletes to reduce lactate acid buildup and burn more fat for energy.
Coconut oil is also one of the best cooking oils as it is more thermally stable than olive oil. I use coconut oil to fry up eggs, veggies and meats. Since MCT oil is a liquid, I also use this to enhance my salad dressings. Here are some that have been independently tested for MCT content, contamination and rancidity:
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